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Char :)

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Why I Write Negative Reviews


So, recently I’ve written negative reviews and had responses that are... unnecessary on Goodreads. Now both of these were indie books and both had a really high overall rating. The most recent happened while I was away and so I didn’t respond and I won’t respond personally because I’m not getting into a petty fight because someone read my review and came to conclusions that never even entered my mind when writing it... However, it got me thinking why do I do this to myself? Why do I put myself out there and review in public? Well this blog post is my answer.

When I started my blog I told myself that I would always be honest. No matter what I thought. Whether the results were positive or negative I’ve happily written down my thoughts, sometimes had a rant, and gone on my merry way to the next book. However, with indie books becoming popular I’ve started to doubt whether negative reviews are the way to go. If you’re a regular visitor to From the Shadows I Review you’ll know my reviewing style. A style that’s still developing and becoming more focused on aspects of the book. I try my best to find positives from every story I read, a review takes me hours to compose and writing a full blown novel I can’t even imagine. Sometimes though, the cons outweigh the pros and it’s with a heavy heart that I tell people that I didn’t like it.

So, why do I write negative reviews?

Simply – because I’m honest. I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I liked something I didn’t. Not every review I write will be positive, people who only post positive reviews lose some of their integrity. I feel like they’re denying their readers the full picture of what they do and don’t like when it comes to books. It also feels like they’re just pandering to every author they come across. However, if you really, genuinely like every single book you read I want your secret. Mainly so I can destroy it. If we all enjoy every book how can the author improve?

Are negative reviews the end of the world?

In my opinion no. A negative review has just as much merit as a positive one. There are few things that make me dislike a review, I have examples, I’ll show you some: when the reviewer puts “I loved it!!!!1!!!1111!!!” without giving reasons or “I HATED IT! IT WAS RUBBISH!!!!1!!!” and again refusing to elaborate their point.

A badly edited review, if you’re spelling things wrong constantly or I don’t understand what you’re saying I’m going to question why I’m reading what you’ve put. Type into Word and spell check. Get someone to edit it for you (I’ve been known to do this. Fresh eyes see things you’ve missed.), Blogger also has a spell check function. There are so many ways for you to make sure your work is presentable. If English isn’t your strong point but you love reviewing, I do suggest looking into them.

Anyway I’ve kind of gone off on a tangent (nothing new). What I’m saying is a well written negative review is just as valid. If you point out why you disliked certain aspects of the story and don’t just attack the author personally. If an author isn’t open to receiving constructive criticism then I have to ask why they’re writing in the first place. Not all feedback will have people hailing them as a God. I want people to understand that it’s okay to dislike a book. It’s not okay to insult people.

Would I ever change a review?

Honestly? No, I don’t think so. Writing about the books I read is something I’m passionate about and though I don’t always get a massive amount of people reading my reviews I like knowing that someone has read them and hopefully appreciated them. Something I do is write from the heart. It takes hours and a LOT of backspacing for me to feel happy that my review gets my point across.

Saying that, if an author came to me, horrifically offended at what I had to say and asked me to take it down, I’d try to come to an agreement. I don’t think that an author has the right to censor a reader, just like a reader has no right to attack another reader that doesn’t. If there’s no respecting others opinions is there any point in anyone reviewing at all? (Actually, that’s a darn good question... Wow. I’m on fire with this post!)

In Conclusion

I write negative reviews to be honest , and to give the author feedback. To some degree every review is biased because it’s the reader’s feelings. So if you come up to me saying my review is biased, surely I can say the same about you? A negative review is a necessary evil. No one wants them but they happen. It’s a natural part of the reading world that everyone has to accept. If we all enjoyed the same things book bloggers would be irrelevant... I don’t want to be irrelevant.

So if you didn’t like a novel TELL ME. Don’t pretend you never read it and shove it in a corner and let it collect dust. Take the time to air your frustrations. You never know, someone might agree with you. Even better, the author might actually appreciate what you have to say and take it on board for their next story. We’re a community of book lovers, reviewers & authors, let’s keep it friendly and appreciate what we each have to say.


Kezia D said...

I agree that negative reviews can help the authors to improve cause if there's only positive reviews, authors wouldn't know which parts they need to fix.

I'm actually quite easy to please, cause usually I'll find something I like even in a book I dislike. (In some rare cases, no.)

Writing reviews can be hard for me... English isn't my first language so I often have a hard time finding the correct words to describe my feelings. I am also too paranoid sometimes that I re-read my reviews a few times before posting them cause I'm afraid there will be grammar/spelling errors.

This is a really great post, a reminder that no matter what, we need to be politely honest in our reviews. :)

Bookworm1858 said...

I'm glad you write negative reviews and bummed to hear about the negative reactions on Goodreads. I've been so lucky on there but I'm terrified to one day have someone come after me because I expressed my opinion honestly and they disagreed.

Christie Palmer said...

Good on you!!! Write what you think. Not every book is for everybody. Negative reviews are part of the review processes. As a writer I appreciate hearing what people think and if that happens to be a negative review so be it. Life goes on...
Keep up the good work.

AwesomeAmy said...

*howls in advance* Books that are character driven (ie. Looking For Alaska) don't always cut it for me. I wrote a negative Goodreads review for that. If it has great PLOT & is character driven it's not an issue, but I'm not going to read something which is a slow burner except on the character development front. Does that make sense?
You already knew I agreed with lots of your points! Hurrah. If I've had negative review responses I've honestly missed them. Oops.
Most HONEST reviewers will have an average rating of 3.something (I do, you do)... I think. It's not too critical but not too praisy! It doesn't mean we don't like reading or are ranting more than we breathe XD

Renee Rose said...

Negative reviews suck, but at least it means SOMEONE is talking about your book. Some talk is better than no talk. I write negative reviews, but my word is not the be all and end all. I hate people who argue on negative reviews without something constructive to say.


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